"Aren't we all bleeding, a little?"
Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nadar McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.
Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams—and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?
I don't think it's possible that there is a person on this earth that loves A.S. King's novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, more than me. I had been fangirl freaking out over this cover every time I saw it for months before it came out. Needless to say, I had big expectations for this book.
This book is real. It doesn't bother with fake pretensions: that bullies aren't real and aren't a serious problem or that parents can—or will—always step in and save the day. That's not how the world works. A.S. King has a clear perspective on how things really are.
One thing I really liked was how Lucky's parents aren't like most. In a lot of YA books I've read, the parents are nearly perfect, and mostly just a backdrop to the real plot of the story. In reality, parents have just as many problems and faults as anyone else, and they have a much bigger impact than that. You expect certain things from your parents, and when they don't do what you expect, you have to step back and evaluate them. Sometimes they aren't the ones who will come to your rescue. Sometimes they can't help you with your problems because they've got problems of their own they have to deal with. And sometimes it's hard figuring out if they're really there for you, or if you're on your own.
So most of this might just be hype-related, seeing as how I was so excited for it, but I just didn't enjoy this book. I thought Lucky was a nice kid, but I never connected with him. The other characters were the same way—I may have understood them, but I didn't really like them.
A constant theme in the book is Lucky's dreams. He has dreams where he tries to help his grandpa escape captivity in Vietnam. Truth be told, I thought they were kind of boring, and I never felt they were really relevant to the story. I think there was supposed to be some kind of connection, but I never really got it.
This is a serious book; it covered a lot of important topics, and I liked that. But I never really got into Lucky's dreams, and I was never rushing to read what happened next. This book just wasn't for me.
I liked the focus on some serious topics such as bullying that need the face time, but this book was just a disappointment for me. I'll be more wary of Vera Dietz's books in the future.
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